The LA Rams didn’t know what to expect from their quarterback position headed into their wild card matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, but they were hoping that the defense and special teams could come up with enough plays to put points on the board and that for the first time all season, the offense wouldn’t turn the ball over. They got what they wished for and the Rams beat the Seahawks 30-20 to advance to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
LA’s top-ranked defense bullied Seattle’s offensive line all day, forcing penalties and holding Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to 11-of-27 passing for 174 yards with two touchdowns to DK Metcalf and one touchdown to Rams cornerback Darious Williams. The Rams defensive line dominated Seattle’s offensive line throughout the game, sacking Wilson five times — including two by Leonard Floyd, who had seven sacks in three games against the Seahawks this year — and forcing numerous holding penalties.
Offensively, the Rams were led by the 131 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards of Cam Akers, the most ever total yards in a playoff game by a rookie in franchise history. Akers answered the call when LA was looking for a spark after John Wolford — announced as the starter less than a hour before kickoff — left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury. He was replaced by Jared Goff, who was clearly forcing himself into action ahead of schedule because it is the postseason, but ultimately finished nine-of-19 for 155 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper Kupp led all LA receivers with 78 yards on four catches, including a 44-yarder that Goff had underthrown but was perfectly timed by Kupp. However, Kupp did get taken out of the game late with a non-contact injury. Goff put the Rams ahead 30-13 in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods.
That drive was setup by a key play from Samson Ebukam on special teams, forcing a fumble on Seattle punt returner D.J. Reed in the fourth quarter. Rather than give the Seahawks a chance to make it a one-score game with time remaining on the clock, Ebukam’s forced fumble and a recovery by Micah Kiser ensured that Seattle would be left with too little and too late.
The Rams turned the ball over at least once in all 16 regular season games, but perhaps a conservative approach — and a lead throughout the contest — was just what the offense needed as they didn’t turn the ball once on Saturday.
Unfortunately, John Wolford and Cooper Kupp were not the only Rams player to exit the game early.
Aaron Donald had two sacks but left in the third quarter when he wrestled Wilson to the ground and suffered a ribs injury. He did not return. Whether or not Donald, Kupp or Wolford will be available for next week’s game is not immediately apparent.
Unless the Chicago Bears upset the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, that game will be against the Green Bay Packers. If the Bears do pull the upset, then the Rams would be facing the winner of Washington vs Tampa Bay Bucs.
For right now, all the LA Rams have to worry about is that they have another playoff game to prepare for and as they proved on Saturday whoever is available, they’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.
The Rams are in the divisional round!